12:21 20.09.2023

Ukraine hopes for compromise before WTO decision on dispute with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia – Ukraine's trade representative

5 min read
Ukraine hopes for compromise before WTO decision on dispute with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia – Ukraine's trade representative

Ukraine is interested in ending the unilateral national bans introduced on September 15 by Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, appealing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) – Ukraine's reaction to this act of neighboring states in the hope of reaching a compromise, Deputy Minister of Economy, Trade Representative of Ukraine Taras Kachka has said.

"Our main interest is to ensure that national bans are lifted. We are grateful to the two states [Bulgaria and Romania] for agreeing to our proposals [joint control of supplies of wheat, rapeseed, corn and sunflower] and did not introduce national bans. Instead, there will be a mechanism for mutual verification, coordination of supplies of four goods to five front-line countries," he said during the United News marathon on Tuesday.

According to the trade representative of Ukraine, the controlled trade mechanism proposed by the Ukrainian side is very complex. Thanks to the proposed work scheme, there will be no significant flow of Ukrainian agricultural goods to the markets of neighboring countries.

"This is very important for us, since we could show what the actual demand is [for four sanctioned goods] and who exactly is buying. This will gradually involve the governments of neighboring states in assessing these supplies," Kachka said.

According to him, the proposed mechanism is "not far from controlled trade," which will last for some time and show that the ban is not needed. It will help gradually move away from the ban and normalize trade.

Kachka recalled that the control system proposed by Ukraine was announced three days before the end of restrictive measures, which explains the sharp reaction from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

"We were very glad that the two states reacted normally. We are now working with them to regulate the bilateral communication mechanism. We are working with all other states, the European Commission," the trade representative of Ukraine said.

He expressed hope that this week "there will be good news" about the launch of a mechanism that allows avoiding bans in bilateral trade. "This is our main tool," the deputy minister added.

"Filing a claim with the WTO is one of the elements of the current situation, and Ukraine's reaction to the emergence of national bans... This is a secondary problem in the work that we are doing," Kachka noted.

The trade representative of Ukraine said that Ukraine wants to avoid lengthy proceedings at the WTO. "We want to find understanding with our neighbors. This is our main priority. We are doing everything to implement it," he said.

Kachka recalled that Ukraine has good relations with Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. "There are nuances with Hungary, but this is a neighboring state with which we have long-term trade relations. No one is trying to destroy them [relations]. On the contrary, we want them to develop in the future. So that our mutual trade, in in particular with Poland, has developed very strongly," he said.

The deputy minister asked to remember that Ukraine has been in very difficult relations since April (with neighboring states) regarding four grain crops. However, in the general context of Ukrainian-Polish bilateral relations, this disagreement is "a drop in the bucket."

"We are for Polish farmers to develop, Ukrainian farmers to develop. In Poland there are big farmers and small ones. In Ukraine there are large concerns and small ones, there are also farmers, of which there are a lot. Each has its own situation and a lot of problems. If we measure problems, the Ukrainian farmer is still in a worse situation," the trade representative of Ukraine recalled and offered to take care of farmers without prohibitions.

Kachka said that the search for a mutually beneficial solution in this situation is very emotional. "Poland has banned imports. And you need to understand that all our actions are a reaction. We have been talking with them for six months, in different situations. I hope we will find an understanding faster than the courts will go to the WTO," he said.

Answering the question whether there is some kind of plan B in the six-month-long conflict, Kachka replied that Ukraine's appeal to the WTO is plan B.

"Plan A is to agree on normal trade control mechanisms that clearly guarantee the interests of Polish farmers and provide opportunities for Ukrainian farmers to trade. Plan B is Ukraine's reaction to Poland's ban on conducting an anti-discrimination investigation at the WTO," the Ukrainian trade representative said.

He added that Ukraine does not agree with the tool (the introduction of a unilateral ban) that Poland uses. According to the deputy minister, the introduced ban is erroneous, first of all, for Polish farmers, and formally in relation to those in Ukraine.

It is heard throughout the world that Poland has banned the import of Ukrainian agricultural products, although there are many more constructive solutions that have already been presented to the European Commission, Kachka said.

"The court... is not our main tool. We would like to abandon it as soon as possible. But we will abandon it when Poland understands that the solution proposed by Ukraine – joint control over the trade turnover of four goods – is a compromise," the trade representative of Ukraine said and expressed the hope that all parties will not have to spend a lot of time at the WTO, providing legal evidence and defending their position.